5th – 6th October – Dorset’s first Bird Fair at Durlston Castle   Leave a comment

Throughout this week I have been continuing our ringing program at Durlston.  Most of the birds ringed were Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs but we had one or two surprises – like the Sparrowhawk shown below.


This Sparrowhawk can be aged as a first year by the brown fringes to the coverts and mantle. The pale yellow eye darkens with age and becomes a rich orange in an adult.



On the 5th October Dorset’s first Bird Fair was held at Durlston Castle. Compared to the Bird Fair held at Rutland Water every August, this was a very small scale affair with just a dozen or so exhibitors. Several bird walks were organised, as well as series of talks and we gave a ringing demonstration. This was very well attended with over 30 people. We were very busy that morning, with close to 200 birds ringed and I had to do the demonstration by myself, taking  just a few birds to show to the public on the patio outside the garden, whilst the rest of the ringers checked the nets and ringed the majority of birds within the garden.

After the public and most of the ringers had departed we caught a couple of Wood Larks. Whilst not a rarity, this scarce breeder is seldom trapped for ringing and I have never seen one in the hand before.




Short crest, short tail, white edges to the primary coverts and alula, a distinctive face pattern and vocalisations all separate this species from the commoner Sky Lark


As well as the ringing demonstration several moth traps were run. A number of interesting species like these Convolvulous Hawk-moths were caught.


At least a dozen of these large moths were trapped over the two days, here are nine of them.


… but the star moth was this beautiful Crimson Speckled, a major rarity from southern Europe. Sorry its still in the plastic container, no one wanted to take it out of the pot in case it flew off.



There were also a series of talks from invited speakers, however the venue used was quite unsuitable. Unable to fully exclude daylight, the projected pictures were very washed out and the area used was only divided from the rest of the room by a movable partition, so the conversations of those attending the exhibitors stalls drowned out the speaker. On Saturday I attended two talks other ringing group members, Sean Walls talked about modern bird tracking technology and Paul Morton gave a presentation on the Birds of Poole Harbour educational charity. Both talks were well attended with around 25 people but this was not the case on the Sunday. Margaret and I turned up about midday and attended a couple of talks before my presentation on the Birds of New Guinea. I only had six people, including Margaret, for my talk, all of them friends.


Durlston Castle was recently redeveloped as a visitor centre, centered around a restaurant. The Sound Approach and Dorset Bird Club’s exhibition stands were in a small room above the restaurant, accessed by this ornate spiral staircase.


The location of the exhibition room wasn’t ideal, as many passers by wouldn’t even know it was there but it was a great place for ‘vis mig’ ie watch the visible migrants like Swallows and Meadow Pipits passing.


The view to the north, Peveril Point, Swanage Bay, Old Harry and in the distance Bournemouth seafront.


In conclusion Dorset’s Bird Fair was a mixed success, Saturday’s events were well attended but this was not the case on Sunday. A better venue is needed for talks and there needs to be more information available on what is going on, but all in all, a very successful event.

Posted October 10, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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